Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lost in Translation

I once saw an exquisite Rubens' drawing of a beautiful woman with long curly hair. The woman had what appeared to be a large, upside-down, black funnel on her head. What do I remember? The funnel-hat (which I could draw now), not really the woman at all.

Of course, sometimes a work is so wonderful that it rises above obscure or absurd inclusions. Such a painting is Pieter de Hooch's Maternal Duty. A contemporary of Vermeer, de Hooch was sometimes less skilled in perspective and proportion. But with this painting, his passages of light, his color, his gesture are all quite marvelous. Today almost no one would guess that the mother is picking lice from her child's head (a necessary practice even in spotless Dutch houses).

My painting has no funnel or (ugh) lice, but smack in the middle is a very unusual... birdbath! I bet you had no idea what it was. I so loved the maple and then the composition that I included an object I knew almost no one would understand.

Japanese Maple, Cheekwood plein air 8x10.


  1. Shirley,

    Its a really nice painting. What if you put a few birds on the rim.

  2. Birds are actually a good idea.
    So nice to hear from you, Jason. Hope all is well with you.

  3. what a lovely soft painting. I like the birdbath and not understanding it's presence. There's a mystery and it allows me to make my own story. Nice shadows and oh so love that maple tree ♥

  4. Your dialogue is as interesting as the is clear that it is large bowl with water in it...the birds would help explain it....lovely

  5. Because you brought up the bird bath, you must be thinking a lot about it. So, what if you did it again w/out the bird bath, and just let the viewer sit on the bench and enjoy the view, the day, the tree, the great color? Artistic license? And, then compare the two?

  6. Thank you all for the thoughts and the compliments.
    Love the idea that it's mysterious, Ivy.
    And Christine, I'm so glad you're enjoying the commentary.
    Pam, I do revisit subjects and often like what I do better the second time around!

  7. First time here and I am blown away with this art! The softness that is associated with your creations seems like a signature and I loved all of them!


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Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...